With wireless CarPlay becoming more and more common among car manufacturers, Volkswagen is another brand that has embraced the technology and I recently had a chance to test out the German automaker's implementation in the 2021 Volkswagen Tiguan.

tiguan 2021 exterior
The 2021 Tiguan is available in five trims, starting with S trim at a little over $25,000 and going up to the SEL Premium R-Line at just about $40,000. My test vehicle was the SEL trim at a step below the high-end, and it comes in at around $32,500 plus destination.

The Tiguan SEL and SEL Premium R-Line come with Volkswagen's new MIB3 Discover Media system, which includes a primary 8-inch infotainment screen with built-in navigation, as well as App-Connect phone integration. For the driver, there is a Digital Cockpit instrument panel with configurable options for showing an array of information from the traditional speed, fuel, and range data to driving directions, audio details, elevation, compass, and more.

The mid-range SE and SE R-Line trims come with the MIB3 Composition Media system that offers nearly the same features as the Discover Media system with the exception of built-in navigation. The entry-level S trim comes with an older MIB2 system and a 6.5-inch Composition Color screen that only offers wired ‌CarPlay‌ and cuts back in other areas, so you'll need to step up to at least the SE trim to start taking advantage of the latest infotainment features.

tiguan 2021 mib3 homeMIB3 infotainment system home screen

My overall impression of VW's latest infotainment system is that it's a relatively clean and responsive system that works well but doesn't have a lot of flash to the interface. That can be good for minimizing distraction, but I also prefer a little bit more flair to help user interface elements stand out a bit more.

VW does some interesting things with proximity and gesture sensing on its infotainment system, tracking where your hand is in front of the main display and reacting accordingly. For example, at rest, some of the on-screen icons shrink and labels fade away, but as your hand approaches the screen, they expand and some get highlights around them to help draw your attention. It's kind of a neat trick that helps deliver a simple look for the system most of the time and only complicates the visual when you're interacting with the system.

tiguan 2021 radioInfotainment radio screen

Gesture control also allows you to perform some basic tasks without even touching the infotainment screen, such as waving your hand to move between menus and change radio stations or audio tracks. VW isn't the only car manufacturer to try gesture controls, but they still feel like mostly a gimmick to me.

tiguan 2021 statusVehicle status screen

As for the main infotainment screen itself, it's an 8-inch display with a resolution of 800x480, and that's really starting to feel like the bare minimum when it comes to a native infotainment system. ‌CarPlay‌ in particular feels a little bit cramped when it comes to the interface, and you don't get the bonus of extra screen real estate from the native system surrounding it since ‌CarPlay‌ takes over the whole screen.

tiguan 2021 carplay dashboard‌CarPlay‌ dashboard view

I found the system to be responsive both in the native infotainment experience and in ‌CarPlay‌. I also appreciated the dedicated "App" button alongside the screen to make it easy to hop into ‌CarPlay‌ at a single touch from anywhere in the native system. The only minor quibble I have is that I would have preferred the app button to the left of the display rather than the right for convenience, as it was one of the most frequently used buttons during my time with the vehicle.

tiguan 2021 carplay home‌CarPlay‌ home screen

While ‌CarPlay‌ takes over the entire main infotainment screen, preventing single-screen viewing of both ‌CarPlay‌ and any aspects of the native system simultaneously, the Digital Cockpit helps a bit in this regard, allowing for the display of additional data like audio information or turn-by-turn navigation instructions from the native system.

There's one other ‌CarPlay‌ trick up the system's sleeve, and that's the ability to display ‌CarPlay‌ turn-by-turn navigation from Apple Maps in the Digital Cockpit. Dual-screen support for ‌CarPlay‌ was introduced as part of iOS 13 in late 2019, but support for it has only just started rolling out to vehicles, so VW is definitely a leader in adopting it. It's important to note that the Digital Cockpit requires the SEL or SEL Premium R-Line trim, so you will need to step up toward the top end to take advantage of all of the available tech functionality.

tiguan 2021 cockpit apple maps‌CarPlay‌ ‌Apple Maps‌ with turn-by-turn navigation in Digital Cockpit

The graphics for second-screen ‌CarPlay‌ navigation aren't fancy on the Tiguan, but they're similar to those for the native system with directional arrows and distances for upcoming turns, street names, distance to destination, and predicted arrival time. The one area where these ‌CarPlay‌ directions came up a little short compared to the native system was in lane guidance, as the native system displayed them in the Digital Cockpit while ‌CarPlay‌ directions did not.

The convenience of wireless ‌CarPlay‌ pairs nicely with wireless device charging, and VW has things covered in that regard in the Tiguan with a convenient charging cubby at the base of the center stack. It fits my iPhone 12 Pro Max with a little bit of room to spare, and a rubber mat keeps your phone in place.

tiguan 2021 front usb wirelessFront USB-C ports and wireless phone charger

As with many vehicle wireless chargers, it only charges at 5 watts, so it won't be able to quickly recharge a depleted phone battery, but it can help keep your phone topped off on longer road trips. The biggest win here is that the charger is standard, unlike with most manufacturers where it typically requires an upgraded package on lower trims, if it's even available at all without stepping up to a high-level trim.

For wired connections, VW has gone all-in on USB-C with a pair of those ports at the base of the center stack adjacent to the wireless charging pad. A third USB-C port (charge-only) is located on the back of the center console for second-row seat passengers. The SEL trim of the Tiguan also comes with a third row of seating, but there are no USB ports for these passengers.

tiguan 2021 rear usbRear charge-only USB-C port

Overall, I'm thrilled to see wireless ‌CarPlay‌ rapidly expanding across car brands, and the bottom line with VW is that it's done a solid job of integrating it into the native infotainment system. I do wish the main screen was a bit bigger or at least higher resolution with the ability to see more on the screen.

I'm really glad to see early adoption of second-screen ‌CarPlay‌ functionality, as that's a fantastic way to help integrate the two systems and use your preferred system for different functions, though you do need to move up to a minimum of the SEL trim to have access to it. I haven't yet been able to test second-screen ‌CarPlay‌ in a vehicle with a head-up display, but ‌CarPlay‌ does support turn-by-turn directions on those as well.

I also hope we'll see more options from Apple for second-screen ‌CarPlay‌ content, whether it be additional content types like full music support or even being able to expand a more feature-rich ‌CarPlay‌ experience across several screens on vehicles that have multiple large screens.

Wireless charging is always great to have alongside wireless ‌CarPlay‌, so I was glad to see the Tiguan equipped with a convenient charging pad, and it's included on all but the lowest trim that lacks wireless ‌CarPlay‌ anyway.

Another charging port in the second row would have been nice to see to help avoid charging squabbles among siblings on road trips, and even a third-row charging port could come in handy, although given the tight fits of third-row seating in mid-size SUVs like the Tiguan, they're mostly for use only in a pinch and I wouldn't ordinarily expect them to get a ton of use on longer trips where charging is more important.

Related Roundup: CarPlay

Top Rated Comments

mattopotamus Avatar
7 weeks ago
VW is consistently on the ball with implementing new technology. They actually provide a lot of bang for your buck in the features department.
Score: 11 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ikramerica Avatar
7 weeks ago

Ive been behind the wheel of a VW since 1998. I won’t drive anything else, and I have even owned Audi
Having owned Audi, VW, MB and 1x BMW, Toyota, Nissan and Mazda, the VW delivers usable tech in a more roomy package for much less money than the other german cars without the gimmicks of the Japanese. Granted they are underpowered to not compete with Audi, but they use similar engines, so there’s an app for that… well, it’s a chip flash from goapr.com.

After having adaptive cruise in both our VWs (included in many trims and reasonable packages, not just an overpriced package like other german brands) I won’t buy a car without it.

Having lived with the unusable Mazda head unit, and not wanting to deal with the convoluted Audi infotainment and overpriced MB options, we have settled on VW going forward. Taos is next…
Score: 5 Votes (Like | Disagree)
iapplelove Avatar
7 weeks ago

VW is consistently on the ball with implementing new technology. They actually provide a lot of bang for your buck in the features department.
Ive been behind the wheel of a VW since 1998. I won’t drive anything else, and I have even owned Audi
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
yossi Avatar
7 weeks ago
800x480 - is that a joke??
Score: 4 Votes (Like | Disagree)
ry3bee Avatar
7 weeks ago

It's important to note that the Digital Cockpit requires the SEL or SEL Premium R-Line trim, so you will need to step up toward the top end to take advantage of all of the available tech functionality.
This feature works on non-digital cockpit as well. There is a small screen between the analog clusters that shows turn-by-turn navigation.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jashsayani Avatar
7 weeks ago
Haha, I just purchased a new 2021 Tiguan a couple of days ago. I love the Wireless CarPlay. But the wireless charing seems slow. If I want to go short distances (less then 15 mins), I will leave my iPhone in my pocket. For longer rides (1 hour), I might need a USB cable to plug in my phone. My car (SE) does not have Virtual Cockpit, but still shows Apple Maps directions in the instrument cluster. I did not want to wait for 2022 model that includes Virtual Cockpit in all trims.
Score: 3 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

Top Stories 63 Feature

Top Stories: Beats Studio Buds Announced, Apple Watch Series 7 Rumors, and More

Saturday June 19, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
The Apple news cycle started to move beyond WWDC this week, but that doesn't mean there still wasn't a lot to talk about, led by the official debut of the much-leaked Beats Studio Buds that might give us a hint of what to expect for the second-generation AirPods Pro. With no hardware announcements at WWDC, we also took a look at when we might finally see the long-rumored redesigned MacBook...
ios wifi settings

iOS Bug Causes Specific Network Name to Disable Wi-Fi on iPhones

Sunday June 20, 2021 4:15 am PDT by
A wireless network naming bug has been discovered in iOS that effectively disables an iPhone's ability to connect to Wi-Fi. Security researcher Carl Schou found that after joining a Wi-Fi network with the name "%p%s%s%s%s%n" his iPhone's Wi-Fi functionality was left "permanently disabled." Changing a hotspot's SSID did nothing to correct the problem, with even a reboot failing to make a...
macbook air orange

Apple Developing a Whole New Kind of MacBook Air

Monday June 21, 2021 2:15 am PDT by
Apple is believed to be working on a completely new, high-end version of the MacBook Air, according to recent reports. Bloomberg's Mark Gurman, who often reveals accurate insights into Apple's plans, has repeatedly discussed the company's work on a high-end MacBook Air. Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo and leaker Jon Prosser have also referred to a similar MacBook Air model. The high-end...
YouTube Picture in Picture Feature

YouTube Says iOS Picture-in-Picture Coming to All US Users

Friday June 18, 2021 9:41 am PDT by
After a long wait, YouTube for iOS is officially gaining picture-in-picture support, allowing all users, non-premium and premium subscribers, to close the YouTube app and continue watching their video in a small pop-up window. In a statement to MacRumors, YouTube says that picture-in-picture is currently rolling out to all premium subscribers on iOS and that a larger rollout to all US iOS...
maxresdefault

Video: 20 Annoyances Apple Fixed in iOS 15 and macOS Monterey

Friday June 18, 2021 11:36 am PDT by
With iOS 15 and macOS Monterey, Apple is adding several quality of life improvements, which are designed to address some of the complaints that people have had with these operating systems for years now. Subscribe to the MacRumors YouTube channel for more videos. In our latest YouTube video, we're highlighting some of our favorite "fix" features that address long-running problems in iOS and...
iOS 15 Users Underwhelmed Feature

Users Underwhelmed by iOS 15 and iPadOS 15, Survey Suggests

Monday June 21, 2021 7:17 am PDT by
Users appear to be underwhelmed by Apple's upcoming iOS 15 and iPadOS 15 updates, according to the findings of a new survey by SellCell. The survey asked 3,000 iPhone and iPad users, evenly split between men and women, aged 18 or over in the United States, what they thought of iOS 15, iPadOS 15, and the naming of the upcoming iPhone 13 lineup. Over 50 percent of all of the survey's...
purple iphone 12 and 12 mini

iPhone 12 Mini Production Reportedly Ended Earlier Than Expected Due to Relatively Low Sales

Monday June 21, 2021 7:07 am PDT by
Following widespread reports that the iPhone 12 mini has experienced poor sales performance, at least relative to other iPhone 12 models, Taiwanese research firm TrendForce today claimed that production of the device has already ended. According to TrendForce, the iPhone 12 mini "reached End-of-Life ahead of time" during the second quarter of 2021, suggesting that Apple will focus on selling ...
primeday2020 feature3

Amazon Prime Day: The Best Apple Deals

Monday June 21, 2021 6:15 am PDT by
Amazon's annual Prime Day event has officially kicked off today, beginning 48 hours of discounts, offers, and tons of savings across Amazon's storefront. This includes everything from home electronics to clothing, jewelry, video games, movies, and much more. Note: MacRumors is an affiliate partner with these vendors. When you click a link and make a purchase, we may receive a small payment,...
16 inch macbook pro m2 render

When Can We Expect the Redesigned MacBook Pros Now?

Wednesday June 16, 2021 7:11 am PDT by
With no sign of redesigned MacBook Pro models at this year's WWDC, when can customers expect the much-anticipated new models to launch? A number of reports, including investor notes from Morgan Stanley and Wedbush analysts, claimed that new MacBook Pro models would be coming during this year's WWDC. This did not happen, much to the disappointment of MacBook Pro fans, who have been...
space gray magic accessories trio

Apple Stops Selling Magic Accessories in Space Gray

Friday June 18, 2021 9:16 am PDT by
Apple this week stopped selling its Magic Keyboard with Numeric Keypad, Magic Mouse 2, and Magic Trackpad 2 accessories for the Mac in a Space Gray color, around three months after discontinuing the iMac Pro, which also came in Space Gray. Last month, Apple listed the Space Gray accessories as available while supplies last, and the company has now removed the product pages from its website...